THIS experiment I call my life has been going on for nearly a year now.
I left my old newspaper at the end of last May. The other day the paper won a decent honour in the Regional Press Awards, the best daily or Sunday newspaper with a circulation below 20,000. How did I feel about this? Well, it’s complicated.
Mostly I was pleased. A small bunch of good and hard-working people keep that newspaper afloat in difficult times, and deserve to the praised for winning that accolade. It’s not easy bringing out a worthwhile newspaper when everything is being cut around you.
So well done to the good and talented people of the Press. Sadly, and this is where I am conflicted, many good and talented people have been shown the door during the past two years.
It would have been nice to have still been there when the award was won, especially after 27 years at the paper. But that’s the way life rolls and congratulations to those hardy few who remain.
I keep in touch with friends on the paper and with some who left when I did. As for the newspaper itself, I keep tabs online but rarely if ever pick up a good honest newsprint copy.
I can’t recall if the Press won a similar award during my time, but I did go to London for a Regional Press Awards ceremony once. Yesterday, as it happens, my wife was clearing out the attic and came across a copy of the Press Gazette from July 2000 when the newspaper won the Local Newspaper Week award, as sponsored by the Newspaper Society.
The features department, in the shape of Chris Titley and myself, produced a supplement about the work of the Press, and it was nominated. Chris wrote the supplement, I did the edit and the design, and it read well and looked good.
A party of us went down as various people were nominated. I can’t recall if anyone else won an award, but that little supplement did. The editor of the day, Liz Page, said I could go up and collect the award, and there I am in that old copy of the Press Gazette, trophy in hand. That bit of brass was pinned to the wall behind my desk for years at the old Press building, but heaven only knows where it is now.
The day was long and drink was taken, at the ceremony and at a nearby pub. I was steady as you like, until the train home when someone – I think it was former chief photographer Martin Oates – ordered in the cans of Stella.
Back at home in York later, the doorbell rang and my wife opened it to find me propped against the bricks, swaying somewhat as I held the award and slurred: “We won.”
I guess it is a sad sign of the times that a once fairly mighty newspaper should be nominated in a category for newspapers with a circulation below 20,000. When I started it was easily more than twice that, I’d have said. There is the internet version too now of course, so that makes up some of the difference.
As to my life, well, I hadn’t expected to be still experimenting at this stage. Plenty of my features have appeared in the Yorkshire Post, with appearances elsewhere (Mensa Magazine, The New Day just before the sun went down). I have finished one thriller, and written something new that is almost done, at least the first draft. And I have tapped out this blog nearly every day for the best part of a year.
Jobs have been applied for without success; national newspapers have been approached without luck (apart from that fleeting appearance in a paper that shut a few days later).
Other than that, life goes on. The experiment will sort itself out eventually – and, just to repeat, well done to the old crew at the Press.